Magazine article Anglican Journal

Seafarers Adapt to Changing Times

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Seafarers Adapt to Changing Times

Article excerpt

REV. J. DAVID Mulholland is conducting the weekly pub lunch at the Missions to Seamen on the Toronto docks and he's waving_raffle tickets at the 25 or so lively guests assembled in the mission's somewhat cramped dining area. Before he draws for a gift basket of food, he has an announcement.

"In a month, the mission will be changing its name, to be ... less sexually distinctive," he bellows. "Don't go there!" comes a shout from the crowd. Undaunted, Mr. Mulholland presses on. "We will be known as the Mission to Seafarers," he cries. The diners toss out other possibilities: "Sea People!" "Sea Creatures!"

And that is how, in typically high-spirited waterfront style, one group of people was told that the Anglican Church's 144-year-old commitment to "they that go down to the sea in ships" would be entering a new phase.

On April 4--the date the new name takes effect--there will be a service of blessing and rededication in Westminster Abbey. "This will enable us to give thanks for what the society has achieved and to re-dedicate ourselves under our new name for the future," said Rev. Glyn Jones, the Mission's London-based secretary general.

The international society's president, Britain's Princess Royal, (formerly known as Princess Anne) will attend the service.

"We serve all seafarers whatever their nationality, faith or gender. By becoming the `Mission to Seafarers,' we are making sure that everyone we serve feels valued and included," Canon Jones said. The society's flying angel symbol will also be updated.

Women have been present at the missions for many years and the push for the name change came from the chaplains themselves, according to society headquarters in London. Rev. Brian Evans, at the mission in Halifax, often sees female crew from cruise ships. A group of female British and Canadian navy veterans, some of whom served during the Second World War, gather regularly for the pub lunch in Toronto.

The Missions to Seafarers is one of the oldest and largest service organizations for ship crews in the world. Out of a total of some 900 missions to seafarers worldwide, the Anglican Church operates centres in about 100 ports--10 in Canada--and has chaplains on-call in another 200.

A port's mission may be a handsome two-story chalet-style building, as in Toronto, or a house trailer, as in Thunder Bay, Ont., or a triple trailer, as in Halifax. …

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